Tricks of the Trade: Advice from Those Who've Made It Big

Steer your business venture in the right direction with these tips from success stories.

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By Derek Miller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

So you wanna start your own business. It's tempting to grab every how-to book, slog through all the must-know info that Google can spit out and check off countless dos and don'ts in your hunt for the recipe for success. But the best advice? It will come from those who've gone before and been there, done that. Here, those who've Made It spill the secrets to their successes.

Surround yourself with the right people

As an entrepreneur, you might often feel like you're going it alone. But that's only true if you want it to be. There are countless opportunities to surround yourself with the people who will help you, uplift you, support you and advise you in your professional life. Don't isolate yourself from others. Instead, seek out a support system and network, network, network.

  • "Surround yourself with great mentors. They help when you reach a plateau in your business cycle and can shave years off your business development and growth through advising from their mistakes and successes." -- Thalej Vasishta, founder of Paragon Law
  • "Make connections and keep a record on each person you meet. Ask for their advice and help. Keep in touch with them along the way and build your network before you need it. Quality relationships are the keys to the kingdom." -- Clare Dreyer, success coach
  • "Don't let the naysayers turn your dreams into a nightmare. There are so many people that will tell you no -- you can't do this. If you're surrounded by those who do, it's time to make new friends." -- Katerina Gasset, SEO consultant

Related: 7 Essential Habits of Happier People

Find your passion

As an entrepreneur you may believe that your business is your passion, but that's not always the case. The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who are able to align their business goals with their passions. Look at yourself and discover what motivates you. Whether it's helping others, making money or solving problems, once you understand what drives you, you'll be able to strategically match your interests with business objectives.

  • "Whether they're individuals or organizations, it's those who start with 'why' that have the ability to inspire those around them." -- Simon Sinek, author and TED speaker
  • "Examine and think deeply about what feeds your soul. What do you wake up in the morning wanting to do more than anything else? What would you do for free with total and complete energy? Something you do automatically, without thinking about it? That's how to discover your Big Why." -- Barry Foster, business and personal coach

Related: Avoid These 3 Big Mistakes I Made as a First-Time Entrepreneur

Serve your customers

The mistake many entrepreneurs make is trying too hard to sell to their customers. Instead, you'll find that focusing on the ways you can serve your customers is more beneficial, whether you're dealing with customers online or in person.

  • "Approach your business from a place of service. How can I help my audience be more successful at what they're doing? Before you write a blog, write a newsletter, shoot a video or present a proposal, be still for a moment and rather than look for a way to win someone over, think about what your audience needs from you right now. Come from a place of how to fill someone else's cup rather than your own." -- Susan Garrett, dog training author and consultant
  • "Be of service; give value. Instead of thinking, 'How can I make a living and make money?' think, 'How can I serve and truly add value to people's lives? How can I make a difference?' This is what Oprah and Deepak Chopra say is their driving mission." -- Rena Hedeman, success coach
  • "Help people. Help when you're happy. Help when you're tired, and even help without expecting to get anything in return. Keep on helping people toward a better life, straight through to your marketing. If you do this, you'll create an approach that's based on 'help marketing,' and you'll have a business that's never short on customers."-- Forest Linden, business consultant

Learn the value of 'no'

Whether you're the one saying it or you're hearing it from someone else, the word "no" can be of great value. It can teach you to improvise and roll with the punches. It can help you focus on areas that need improvement. And it can be used as a way to safeguard and prioritize your time, your best ideas and your business vision.

  • "If you're not being told 'no' enough times a day, you're probably not doing it right or you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough." -- Shafqat Islam, NewsCred CEO
  • "Saying 'no' to great ideas is necessary to get to the brilliant ones." -- Dane Atkinson, SumAll CEO

Related: 5 Entrepreneurial Lessons I Learned From My Late Father

Derek Miller

Content Marketing and Social Media Strategist

Derek Miller is a content marketing consultant for CopyPress. He has the startup bug and loves working in the fast-paced world of online marketing. In his spare time he is building a website for fantasy sports fans and players to share and find advice.

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